Xenophobia, poured over ICE
Immigration raids strike fear in the hearts of undocumented people—xenophobia remains rampant.
February 13, 2017
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Last week, immigration raids were reported to have occurred in several states including California, North Carolina, New York and Illinois, according to The Los Angeles Times and national news sources. According to LA Times writers Joel Rubin, Brittny Mejia, James Queally and Ruben Vives, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is claiming that they’re part of routine evacuations of immigrants with a criminal background.
President Donald Trump, with his infamous use of Twitter as his information platform, tweeted in response on Sunday morning, “The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise. Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!” He isn’t the most articulate man, so he may not have meant much by “others,” but that made me wonder why they were included. Should we be paying attention to these “others?”
“Others” might be the people living with these so-called “gang members” and “drug dealers.” Maybe they’re the relatives, the laborers that contribute to economic development. Maybe they’re the children, the students trying to prove that their undocumented status is not synonymous with criminal activity.
Meanwhile, leaders of advocacy groups such as the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles are claiming that, in light of President Trump’s executive orders on immigration, those who risk deportation are even more terrified about potentially being swept up in one of the raids.
This country’s narrative normalizes ICE raids. First, they’re plainly tactical. ICE uses the element of surprise to ensure success in rounding up as many undocumented immigrants as possible. The bigger objective, though, is political. The president will be able to show a number of deportations to the public in order to stress the need for a stronger border control and tougher inter-border, enforcement-like raids. This number, regardless of its amount, will be enough for anti-immigration supporters. It gives Trump’s correlation between crime and immigration momentum because of rhetoric he used during and after his campaign.
With all the news being circulated, I find myself drowning in a whirlpool of misinformation — with no person or group to hold accountable.
There’s a lot of information being tossed around. In terms of Trump’s correlation between crime and immigration, studies have challenged and proven that there is none. Robert Adelman, University of Buffalo professor and Scientific American contributor, investigated the relationship with his colleagues for forty years in 200 metropolitan areas and found no evidence to back it. “Large cities with substantial immigrant populations have lower crime rates, on average, than those with minimal immigrant populations,” Adelman said. There was also evidence of cities having less crime with a larger immigrant populations.
This begs the question: what is Trump’s definition of a criminal offense? Regardless of whether or not the people being rounded up in this enforcement surge have committed a crime, there needs to be a tier of offenses as a reference point. Is someone going to be deported for running a red light versus someone who’s committed murder? Is someone going to be deported for being discovered at a hospital without insurance versus someone who’s committed a sexual assault? There’s a huge range of undocumented residents; like any group, there’s good and there’s bad, but the contributions of those willing to uphold whatever they deem as respectable American values—politically, economically, or otherwise—go either undervalued or unnoticed.
I want to believe that ICE was performing something routine, just as they did under former President Barack Obama’s administration.
“Mr. Obama… carried out many more deportations than previous presidents, setting a record of more than 2.4 million formal removals,” New York times writer Julia Preston said. Even the former president was wary of undocumented criminals. He played his part, and that alone left me questioning if these raids were something of an ongoing theme; however, those affected are afraid — and justifiably so. They have been listening to a president of a country in which they sought refuge refer to them as the source of economic downfall, murder activity and gang violence.
If I hadn’t had the privilege of being born here, or if my parents didn’t have the chance of earning citizenship status, I would be fearful too.
Considering Trump’s views on immigration, his promises to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, build a wall between the United States and Mexico and restrict funding for sanctuary cities — generalized stigmas toward undocumented immigrants will continue to rise. Most of the opposition comes from people who are threatened by the unfamiliar.
I’m tired of waking up to my phone flashing a terrifying, Trump-related news headline. It always sounds exaggerated and far-fetched, so much so that I have to read almost a dozen articles on the topic. I am all too familiar with people who remain unwilling to widen their scope of media information—who refuse to put in the work and research what it is they’re actually supporting.